The re-introduction of randonneuring bikes has come with a pretty hefty price tag; Many of these bikes are selling for a thousand dollars and up just for the frame. Surly, Pashley, Velo Orange and yip san bikes have become popular for introducing some models into the market. Randonneuring events such as gravel grinders are starting to become more popular. These distance events are unsupported, meaning no one to change your tire if you have a flat out on the road. These point A to point B races that go through back country dirt and loose gravel roads. The events are day long races held regardless of the weather or amount of daylight.
Is a Schwinn Le Tour the best bicycle for this conversion? Before I hear from the critics I will be the first to say this isn't the easiest bike for this type of conversion. The reader will find it much more practical to go with a bicycle made from the mid 1980's and up. Much of the manufacturing specs and parts had become universal to every road bicycle by then. Schwinn's have quirky headtube, seatpost and brake hole diameters, but are not impossible to find parts for. Also, in many cases the rear triangle of the frame will require bending in order to fit a standard rear wheel with the larger freewheel (Velo Orange carries 126mm freehub wheelsets for around $280, bending is the more affordable workaround). I am choosing my Schwinn because it is initially cheaper in price, I have already invested in the initial restoration process, and because there were a surplus of these bikes made in the 70's bike boom, many hidden in the corners of people's garages. My goal is to dispel myths that are associated with conversions like these, as well as myths pertaining to riding a road bike off road. This will be an interesting series of articles. I encourage the reader to subscribe and stay tuned for new developments. According to all the bike forums and information out there no one has done or recommends this type of conversion to date. It's a little disappointing, since there is a whole second hand market of mid 70's Schwinns out there. Most of these old bikes can bike picked up at a garage sale or craigslist for 50 dollars. So instead of buying another new bike, I will show the reader how to build a comparable touring bike at a fraction of the cost.